Raich Edges Miller to Win World Cup

Friday, December 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) _ Benjamin Raich had two almost faultless runs Friday to edge Bode Miller of the United States and win a World Cup giant slalom.

Raich, second in Thursday's giant slalom, got his first victory of the season by finishing in a combined time of 2 minutes, 7.46 seconds. After crossing the finish lining, he whipped off his skis and kissed them.

Miller, of Franconia, N.H., was second in 2:07.88, followed by Didier Cuche of Switzerland (2:08.70).

``I attacked the course in the first run. I went out to be more aggressive. Yesterday I was too passive,'' Miller said. ``After the first run, I thought I had a good chance at it, but Bennie was too tough today.''

Miller is confident going into Saturday's slalom.

``I can win tomorrow. It looks good,'' he said.

Miller has won giant slalom and slalom races this season and is second in the overall standings behind Austria's Stephan Eberharter. Miller said ski racing was the most attractive competitive sport available in New Hampshire.

``You can ski a lot there, and all my family have always been skiers,'' he said. ``Many have also been competitive skiers. I'm just the first one to make the breakthrough into the World Cup.''

Miller is mentioned as a medal favorite for the Salt Lake City Games in February.

``It's ideal to be confident in two, maybe three events,'' he said, speaking of the slalom, the giant slalom and ``possibly the combined'' _ which adds results of a downhill to a slalom.

``I don't thing many fans in the United States are expecting a lot,'' he said. ``If we can win some medals it would help the sport a lot.''

Raich, recovering from back problems, won two giant slaloms in 2000 _ at Bormio, Italy, and another at Yong Pyong, South Korea.

Norway's Lasse Kjus failed to finish for the second straight day and Slovenia's Uros Pavlovcic, who finished third on Thursday, failed to complete the second run.

IOC president Jacques Rogge watched the second run from the finish area. He was welcomed by Slovenia President Milan Kucan, officials from the Slovenian Olympic Committee, International Ski Federation president Gian Franco Kaspar and local officials.